Sunday, 8 December 2013


Saturday morning and I am back home after my regular spin class at the gym. For the uninitiated, a spin class is basically a group workout on stationary bikes accompanied by pumping music and screeching instructor. Spin classes are also called RPM - if the gym has purchased the license to use the internationally registered and recognized Les Mills program. My gym is stingy. No water fountains and no Les Mills. Instead each Saturday, the quality of the class is dependent on the Friday evening activities of the instructor. Truthfully I have witnessed this particular instructor coming into the gym drinking a can of Red Bull and smoking a cigarette. Yet being the Netherlands, the crowd is tolerant of mediocrity. I also don’t mind. Not only do I generally get a little sweat happening, my brain is stretched trying to translate the Dutch instructions, and I have my own personal challenge to not look at the clock in less than five minute intervals.

I too like to keep the tension tight in my exercise schedule. That is why I exercise Saturday morning. Niggling headache and dry mouth always disappear when my body takes over the pain. I am generally good as long as I keep my eyes diverted from the floor-and-wall length mirrors, and nobody requests the dvd of the Grand Canyon route that induces nausea with all the sudden turns and sharp dips. The secret to survival, as it is for many occasions, is correct caffeine dosage beforehand.

My spin class colleagues don’t really know what to make of me. My dedication is questioned because I refuse to buy either cycling shoes or cycling pants. My reason being that, without a car, I spend hours each day on my ‘real’ bike - without lycra padded pants or cycling shoes. Why would I buy the gear to sit on a stationary bike in a gym for an hour a week? Just like I pretend to ride up a mountain, I can also pretend that I am wearing sponsored Tour de France cycling gear.

In my warm house, after a short cycle in the cold rain back from the gym, I acknowledge that this surreal, physical activity is something that my kids will one day make fun of, – like I made fun of Olivia Newtown John and the roller-skating fitness craze that followed her film, Xanadu. It obviously made sense at the time, and like spinning classes, the release of endorphins makes the body feel good while the brain takes a little break from making sense of what we are doing and how foolish we are doing it.